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Dartford council reveals new Orchard West theatre pictures where EastEnders’ Shona McGarty will appear in panto

A new CGI picture has revealed how a new temporary £1.5 million purpose-built theatre will look, as it prepares for panto season.

Construction is well under way on the state-of-the-art Orchard West that’s hastily being built in Dartford.

Orchard West in Dartford. Picture: Dartford council
Orchard West in Dartford. Picture: Dartford council

It comes after The Orchard Theatre in Home Gardens, was forced to shut in September.

Its year-long closure followed the discovery of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in its roof which will cost £ 7 million to put right.

A spokesman for Dartford council said: “A state-of-the-art seating arrangement will be at the heart of Orchard West, with 1,091 capacity.

“The seating arrangement includes front-row, flat floor seats, and a raised platform, offering excellent views of the stage. It also provides comfortable seating and accessible positions for all attendees.”

The temporary venue is located on the Westgate site just a stone’s throw from The Orchard Theatre.

In October, Dartford council confirmed the Christmas panto, Beauty and the Beast, had been saved thanks to the creation of Orchard West.

Last week its stars, including EastEnders’ Shona McGarty, who will play Belle, were in the town for its press launch.

Orchard West under construction. Picture: Dartford council
Orchard West under construction. Picture: Dartford council

A spokesman said: “Orchard West will be a unique and exciting setting for audiences to continue to enjoy live performances in a warm, safe and comfortable environment.

“Crucially, the venue will also support the continuing employment of the theatre team, visiting artists and backstage crew – plus many local businesses in the surrounding area that rely on footfall from theatregoers.”

Those who had tickets for events at the Orchard will have those automatically transferred to comparable seats at Orchard West.

The spokesman added: “We are continuing to confirm our upcoming programme and more details will be released soon.

“Ticketholders for upcoming events will be contacted by the theatre team as soon as possible over the next few weeks.”

Beauty and the Beast opens on December 9 and runs until December 31.

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